Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Popular culture

It is interesting how facets of contemporary "culture" can simply pass you by. I am thinking now of Andy Warhol and of Interview magazine. When I came to New York, back in the early 1980s, the large-format Interview was always staring out at you from magazine stands, with the star or personality du jour on the cover, but I can't recall every picking up a copy and reading it. I was also aware of the club scene, with the likes of Bianca Jagger and Halston and so on, but I never went to a club and didn't really have much interest in going. There was the phenomenon then that I found amusing, the bouncers outside clubs who chose who got to go in and mingle with the "elect." Andy Warhol seems to have inaugurated all that, but for me there was simply no interest in being around celebrity. (I still feel the same way about movie stars and, now, the Obama celebrity.)

But when I got to Pittsburgh on Thursday, mid-afternoon, a few hours before the opening reception of the Goethe Society conference, I decided to go downtown to the Andy Warhol Museum. Warhol was such a quintessential New York personality that it is hard to believe that he actually came from Pittsburgh.

As I said, Andy Warhol was never of interest to me, though I have as my screen saver his silkscreen of Goethe (from the original painting by Tischbein). Still, the museum was lots of fun, again perhaps because of my recent interest in the phenomenon of "Spieltrieb." There seems to have been nothing serious about Warhol's artistic intentions. He was a central figure in what was known back in the ... when was it anyway? the 1970s? ... pop art movement. He even made Goethe into pop art and also Pittsburgh's benefactor, Andrew Carnegie.

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